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Barony St John

Dr. Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery

As mentioned in a previous post, I found a wonderful pamphlet titled “Life & Work” with the sub-heading “Ardrossan New Parish Church” which had been hidden beneath the floorboards of the Barony St. John Church since 1893. ( The church was known as Ardrossan New Parish Church until 1929 when it became Barony Church then when the local St. John’s Church got demolished, it took their parishioners and in 1987 changed its name again to Barony St.John.)

This advertisement taken from the pamphlet is so good (in a weird and wonderful kinda way) that it deserved its own post; Dr. Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery

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It was advertising an electro-therapeutic medical medallion, based on the 1880 patented design of Edward P. Caldwell.

It came in two designs, a heart shaped centre and a cross shaped centre, and was sold by A.M. Richardson & Co. through local agents in 1883. According to the advertising leaflet, which was published in 1893, they had sold over 3 million battery medallions over the previous 10 years. 

The blurb claims that the battery was “scientifically tested and guaranteed genuine” and gave “renewed life and energy” by “purifying the blood and improving the circulation striking at once at weak and nervous debility”.

The centre pages of the advert has the headline “The blood is the life, but electricity is the life of the blood” and it appears the amount of medical conditions it cured were almost endless;

Brings happiness and freedom after nauseas medicines fail. Relieves Neuralgia, Rheumatism, Pain in the Back, Nervousness, Chest Colds, Indigestion. Gives strength and vitality to the Nerve forces, uniform and healthy circulation to the blood.

“.…develop agreeable, curative currents throughout the body, the intensity of the currents being demonstrable by galvanometer. The Batteries are excited through mere contact with the body by the moisture of the skin, aided by the natural body heat.

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Immediate relief is afforded in all cases of impaired or impeded Nerve action, as in Bronchitis, Rheumatism and Neuralgia, and in all cases of sluggish and dormant Organic action, as in general Debility, Biliousness and Constipation.

It also had many testimonials claiming that it also helped Loss of Appetite, Kidney Complaints, Liver Complaints, Lumbago, A Weak Chest, Quinsy and Dizziness, Depression and Nervousness”.

Basically, this magneto-galvanic battery pendant claimed to cure almost everything.

I’ve searched the internet and cannot find any information as to when these products went out of production or if any cases of false claims made against Dr. Richardson or his company. If any readers know anything more, please let me know.

Watch out for more eccentric items advertised for sale in the Victorian era including Y&N corsets, knock-about frocks and a post about Pears Soap that you’ll be shocked to read.

Bye for now.

What to do??

Okay, here’s the thing; when I bought the Barony St. John church and hall in December 2014, I thought the hall would be ideal for my charity as it had a massive training hall and a possible classroom off-shoot.

The church building on the other hand was a bit of a question mark. Should I / we keep it or sell it?

If it was sold, a property developer may buy it up and make it into flats but it’s a listed building so they’d be limited as far windows are concerned. And, having asked around, I found out that it would cost about £1million to convert the church into 12 luxury flats…..with no view except the side streets. 😦

Flats with views around the Ardrossan marina were selling for £75,000 and even if the developer got £80,000 per flat, he just wouldn’t make any money from this venture.

So maybe a big brewery like Witherspoons would take it over and it would become a pub / restaurant similar to a church development they have done in nearby Ayr. But would I really be happy with a pub on my doorstep? No, I don’t think so.

So, what if we kept it?,What could we do with it?

Obviously, if you took all the pews out, you’d be left with a massive big room which, in my eyes,   would be ideal for an Events Centre.

Initially, I thought of making the upstairs gallery into accommodation so we could advertise residential courses – but I was soon convinced that the hall building should cater for our charity and the church building should be completely separate.

Maybe we could floor the hall building and put bunk-style residential accommodation up there? Well, it’s worth looking into.

 

Maybe the two buildings could be connected via the courtyard and we could have cafe facilities and extra toilet facilities for the Events Centre built in?

Now here’s another problem; if I get the funding to complete this vision and save this iconic building, it’s still going to be an empty building – albeit ready to open as a cafe / Events Centre. I would still need to get the cafe kitted out (crockery, cutlery, cooking equipment, food, etc.), the Events Centre kitted out (banquet tables, chairs, bar stock, glasses, decor, etc.), hire staff, promote the place, etc. etc. ….. and all of this will take cash – a lot of cash.

Where will this come from? Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

Answers on a postcard.

 

“Thank You” to Howdens Ardrossan

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A huge “Thank You” to Howdens’ Ardrossan store for donating the solid wood worktop, state of the art drawer units and storage cupboard for our new Training Room.

We are extremely grateful.

  

As you can see, the finished look is fantastic!

Temperance Tennyson

Hidden behind an old cupboard in the Barony St. John was a pile of papers which dated back to the early 1900’s (some 1906, 1907, 1909, 1916, 1924, etc.)

In amongst this paperwork was a small card about 3″ x 2″.

It is cream in colour and on one side shows an invitation to a “Special Meeting for Women” and admits the bearer and a friend to a meeting in nearby Saltcoats on Monday January 31st.

I’ve had a look at the calendar and 31st January fell on a Monday  in 1898, 1910, 1916 and 1921 so I’m thinking it’s either 1910 or 1916 as the majority of papers were from between those dates.

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The reverse (or front) of the card advertised a series of “thrilling lectures” from Tennyson Smith  at Saltcoats Town Hall and so I set about finding out more about this gentleman.

Mr. Tennyson Smith was an Englishman and a noted temperance and Prohibition orator who traveled around the world delivering “a series of thrilling lectures on the drink question” according to an article I found in the Granby Leader (Colorado, USA) from 1916.

img_2378And according to the South Wales Daily News of October 12th 1895, Mr. Tennyson Smith was “obliged in 1890 to leave England on account of his wife’s health, he went to Australia; and first in Adelaide, subsequently throughout the whole of the South Colony, he continued temperance work achieving marked success. His services being sought by the other colonies, , he made an extended tour of Queensland; and afterwards went to New Zealand…..Since his return to England, he has been warmly welcomed in different parts of the country, his meetings being crowded to excess.”

I found another article in the New South Wales (Australia) Riverine Herald from 1894 which read as follows:

Mr Tennyson Smith’s Crusade

“Last evening the congregation at the Tjeiri Perimee Hall on the occasion of the Presbyterian Church service, gave an indication of what was to follow, and, as soon as the service was concluded, numbers who had been waiting outside, poured in to hear Mr Tennyson Smith deliver Dr Talmage’s famous sermon.

There was scarcely standing room, and, though Mr Tennyson Smith had already introduced himself to the Echuca public at the children’s service in the afternoon, there was apparent that expectation which is always observable when something unusually good is expected.

A few introductory remarks by the Rev. R. Brown, chairman, some singing by a combined choir and the congregation, and Mr Tennyson Smith indulged in some pertinent and straight-out hitting, as a preface to the piece de resistance. He was very forcible in his denunciation of those who were in the habit of sitting in the church pews and “singing themselves to bliss.

He wanted people to show their Christian spirit by helping their follow creatures and personally exerting themselves to aid in the cause of temperance: Mr Tennyson Smith’s style of delivery bespeaks an elocutionist of ability and, though his voice is not over strong, his re petition, from memory, of Dr Talmage’s discourage was wonderfully good. The sermon, in itself, is very powerful and very striking, and it contains one of the clearest arguments against the liquor trail that could be given effect to on a public platform. The congregation listened with the greatest interest, and the three-quarters-of-an-hour of time occupied seemed to pass but too quickly.

What a thriving town Echuca must be,” he sarcastically observed, when making a passionate exhortation to those present to come forward and take the pledge;

You have 48 houses of accommodation for travellers — that must surely be a good sign.

Mr Tennyson Smith is full of energy and lore, and his appeal, “Who will be the first to come forward ?” being answered by a young man from the back, amidst great applause.

A large number signed, the ordeal being freed from monotony by the singing of well-known hymns, interspersed with stirring remarks by the lecturer.

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Another article in the same newspaper reads;

“For the sake of others” is the title of Gough’s most famous oration to be delivered by Mr E. Tennyson Smith, the popular Temperance orator, in the Temperance Hall this evening, and in view of the splendid reception accorded the lecturer and the favourable impression created on the crowded audience last evening there is no doubt another full house will greet Mr Smith on his re-appearance.  This particular oration has a peculiar charm in as much as it was this very lecture delivered by the great master himself which won Mr Tennyson Smith over to the ranks of total abstainers and started him on his life’s work which has proved so successful as to earn for him the title of “The Second Gough.”

The oration includes some of those wonderfully thrilling passages such as the description of a ship on fire, the coach driver’s terrible drive down hill in California and his appalling cry “I can’t find the brake” and the wreck of the lifeboat.

These illustrations are given with all the dramatic fire and realism for which the lecturer is noted, while the oration sparkles with those inimitable humorous stories for which Gough was renowned and which must be heard to be appreciated. In this respect the lecture will form a striking contrast to the more sombre and stately style of Dr Talmage’s discourse given last night. The mission will continue each evening till Thursday, when Mr Tennyson Smith will give his popular dramatic representation, “The trial of a notorious criminal,” undoubtedly the most interactive and entertaining evening of the series. Full particulars of the various meetings will be found in another column.

AN UNEXPECTED RESULT. A most interesting incident occurred during Mr Tennyson Smith’s mission to Shepparton one which promises to be of considerable importance. On the night of the “Trial of Alcohol,” in which Mr Tennyson Smith appears as “Council for the Prosecution,” the question was asked as usual, “Is anyone prepared to say anything in defence of the prisoner, alcohol ?” In response Mr Carpenter (a moderate drinker) held that the crimes committed by alcohol were largely the fault of the Temperance party. He said that; they did not provide places which would prove a counter-attraction to the hotel and asked, where are the young men of Shepparton to go to discuss football, etc., and urged that the prisoner, alcohol, might be acquitted, as the blame lay rather with the Temperance party. Although the argument for the acquittal of the prisoner was rather weak, it was received with much applause by the moderate drinking section of the audience, and it was evidently considered that a considerable blow had been struck at the lecturer. A great surprise was, however, in store for them, and a considerable disappointment for the supporters of the Liquor sale, when Mr Tennyson Smith used his opponents argument as a weapon to strike a blow at the trade. The lecturer on rising to reply said that with sadness he pleaded guilty on behalf of the Temperance party, to the charge made by Mr Carpenter, he confessed that it was a difficulty here, as in other places, as to where young men could congregate for social intercourse, but he said why should we not solve the problem so far as Shepparton is concerned. Why not start a Temperance Club, he then gave a few particulars of the first Temperance Club started in New Zealand, which was largely due to his efforts, and as the outcome of a mission and which, he said, was today a financial success. Said the lecturer – “Now, I will give a guinea to start a subscription list for such a club in Shepparton, who will give another?

I will,” “I will“, “and I will,” were the exclamations in several parts of the hall, followed by rounds of applause. Tho following day Mr Tennyson Smith conferred with Mr Carpenter, as representing the moderate drinkers, and Mr .J. H. Smith (chemist), and other temperance friends as representing the temperance party and suggested a “social” should be arranged (as was done in New Zealand) on the following Wednesday, and that he would return to Shepparton to be present, when the matter could be discussed and a committee formed to carry out the project. This was decided upon. Meanwhile information was collected as to ways and means, and a preliminary meeting held at the house of Mr J. H. Smith (chemist), when resolutions were formulated. The “social” took place on Wednesday, July 25th, and was a great success, the special feature being that fully as many moderate drinkers as teetotalers were present.

Mr Gregson (banker), was voted to the chair. Resolutions were passed that a club should be formed, two separate committees of ladies and gentlemen being elected to carry out the project. Another was made by the committee of the Mechanics’ Institute to hand over the building, etc., to the committee on the most advantageous terms, and it appeared advisable to the club to he connected with it. Over £12 has already been subscribed and about, fifty persons gave in their names to join. The subscription being fixed at 2 shillings per quarter. We shall watch with considerable interest the development of this scheme and trust our Shepparton friends will know it a great success, be that other towns may be induced to follow suit in this”forward” movement.”

What a wonderful insight into a time gone-by.

Converted churches

There is something really wonderful about a church building in floodlight – maybe even magical.

Take a look at Fenstanton St. Peter & St. Paul parish church bathed in colour and you’ll get what I mean –

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Or maybe Fenton St. Mary’s church in the more traditional white spotlight-

I just think that a church lit up at night, whether in colour or in white light, is something a bit special, don’t you agree?

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I wonder what the Barony St. John church building would look like all lit up?

Spectacular, I think.

Inside, the Barony St. John is the wonderfully grand church organ –

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Now here is the organ in St. Luke’s in Glasgow, the former church which has now been converted into an Events Centre –

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You must admit, there are similarities – but here is St. Luke’s organ backlit with lights and hosting a music event –

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Looks pretty cool doesn’t it?

And here is our floor area –

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And here is St. Luke’s with the pews taken out and set up for a wedding –

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St. Luke’s also have a bar which can be lit in colours to match bridesmaids’ dresses or any colour scheme and matches the lights at the organ –

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Now how cool is that?

Wouldn’t the Barony St. John look superb if it had this makeover?

Well, it may well do – and it’s could be up to you. We are asking for your opinion in a Survey Monkey to determine what the Barony St. John buildings could be transformed into. So for your say on what we should do with them, simply log into https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BaronyStJohn and give us your opinion.

Many thanks 😀

Crystal clear

After what seems like an eternity, the windows in the Training Room have been completed – and they look fab!

Here is what they looked like before –

The wood was rotten (in fact one of the arched windows fell out when we removed the plaster work around it) and every pane was a different type of glass – frosted, clear, opaque, patterned with dimples, patterned with ridges, tinted, mottled – you name it, it was here.

    

The wooden windows are exact copies of what was there before even down to the small square opening segment in the middle of the square windows.

  

With a new coat of paint, the new windows look absolutely fabulous compared to the old, rotten ones.

  

Now we need to focus on the metal protective covering which is on the outside wall of each window.

  

These are badly rusted and damaged causing rust to flow down the external stonework so they need removed, de-rusted, repaired and re-painted – if that’s possible. If not, they’ll need replaced.

Onwards and upwards. 😀

Easter Egg Hunt 2017

Well, it’s hard to believe that it was a year ago that I did our first Easter Egg hunt with my kids in the derelict Barony St. John building.

This year, I tried something a little different – coins and a large egg. You hunt for the coins, which were hidden all over the pews. And then you get a clue to the whereabouts of the large egg.

 

Daniel’s clue was “Arial, Lucinda, Comic Sans, Times New Roman…”

Yes, you’ve guessed it, they’re all types of Fonts…………so his egg was in the church font. 🙂

Gemma’s clue was “Heart, Kidneys, Liver, Lungs…”

They are all types of internal organs……..so her egg was in the church organ. 😀

Two happy kids. 😉

Omen 10 – The Haining Omen

From the very beginning there has been something weird drawing me to the Barony St. John buildings in Ardrossan as a base for my charity.

Little coincidences or quirks that I’d refer to as “omens” which seemed to be telling me that this was my destiny.

Yes, I know, this all sounds fanciful and I have detailed all the Omens in previous blog posts – but let me summarise them to date –

Omen 1. The Ardross-Ardrossan – this highlighted the similarity between the name of the village where I lived in the Highlands (Ardross) at the time I bought the buildings and the town where the buildings were (Ardrossan).

Omen 2. The Instructor Omen – not knowing exactly where in North Ayrshire Ardrossan was, I contacted a group I had trained as instructors from North Ayrshire to see if they had heard of the church – and it turned out that the leader and a couple of instructors actually lived in Ardrossan,  giving my charity a supply of ready qualified, local instructors.

Omen 3. The Star of David Omen – when visiting the buildings for the first time with my brother David, I noticed it had a Star of David (Jewish) symbol in the hall window and in the church window. Strange for a Church of Scotland building but a coincidence since David was here with me.

Omen 4. The Church Omen – After putting a bid in for the hall building, we were informed it had been accepted and we would be getting the church building too.

Omen 5. The SAS Omen – As the Three Towns of Saltcoats, Ardrossan and Stevenston often gets abbreviated to SAS (as in the SAS Explorer Scout Unit) it was a coincidence since SAS was the abbreviation of my organisation prior to it becoming a charity, Security And Safety.

Omen 6. The Owner Omen – how strange to find out that the only other person on the title deeds to the church buildings was Robert Bell in December 1844 and now, exactly 170 years later in December 2014, my name was added – Alan Bell. Only two people on the title deeds, both named Bell.

Omen 7. The Elder Omen – Having found the accounts from 1906 and 1909, I was surprised to see that David Bell was a church elder. The same name as my brother.

Omen 8. The Wolf Omen – Having decided to look at getting the church ceiling painted with a fresco, a local painter had the idea of painting a Celtic horoscope with animals and trees representing the various star signs. Her plan of work showed various animal drawings of a stag, salmon – and a wolf drawing which was identical to the emblem of my children’s Primary School….in Ardross.

Omen 9. The Wallace Omen – A chance meeting with World Karate Champion Bill “Superfoot” Wallace saw him agree to open my Centre…..on the 720th anniversary of the original William Wallace’s taking of Ardrossan castle just behind the church buildings.

And now, one of my new instructors comes up to me having read one of my blog posts regarding (Omen 7. The Elder Omen) and asks me if I noticed her name in the list of church elders.

Daisy Haining is currently our youngest instructor. She is 17yrs old and was actually born in Stevenston (one of the Three Towns) where she lived for the first two years of her life before moving to Ardrossan.

Her father was originally from Stewarton in East Ayrshire (15 – 16 miles away from Ardrossan) so no immediate link with Ardrossan until 15 years ago.

And here’s the thing – Haining is a pretty uncommon name. In fact, Daisy has never met anyone else with the same surname other than her relations!

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But yet, here in the list of church Elders in the New Ardrossan Parish Church annual report of 1906 and 1909 is a Mr D. B. Haining.

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Now, if you look carefully at the list of Elders, you’ll notice there is something really strange about D.B. Haining – it’s the only name abbreviated to initials. All the other names are written in full.

D.B Haining was also the “Representative Elder to Presbytery and Synod” (I had to look up “synod” and apparently its either “an assembly of the clergy and sometimes also the laity in a diocese or other division of a particular Church” or “a Presbyterian ecclesiastical court above the presbyteries and subject to the General Assembly”) and D.B Haining was one of only three Elders who were on the Poor Fund Committee – the other two being James Barbour and David Bell (same name as my brother).

So yes, it is a Mr rather than a Miss. And yes, it is D.B. Haining rather than D. Haining. But there is no denying that this is spookily weird.

I buy the church on behalf of my charity and two of my six instructors have the same surnames as two of the twelve church Elders from over a hundred years ago.

Even spookier, two of the three members of the church’s Poor Fund Committee have the same surname’s as two of my instructors and one has the exact same name….the other is the only person to have their forename as an initial instead of the full name, making this name D. Haining the same as my instructor D. Haining.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I think you will agree that this new revelation does indeed qualify as Omen 10. The Haining Omen 😀

Getting there

Yes, I’ve had a lot of setbacks with this Training Room; the water ingress, the plasterwork, the rotten windows, the wrong size windows, the wrong size glass, etc. etc. but through it all Paul Marchetti, builder extraordinaire, has shone through. He tackles every problem with a shrug and a smile and just gets on with the job. Likewise his partner in crime, Peter.

And so, we are finally getting there. The window glass is ordered and in the meantime, the room has been framed off.

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Next stage was to put in insulation between all the frames leaving a gap between the insulation and the stone wall to allow air flow and prevent a build-up of sand and dirt again.

The room is starting to shape.

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The next stage was to take one of the windows out so that it can be sent to a specialist wooden window making company and exact copies can be made. Paul undid a screw at the top of one of the arched windows…………and the whole thing fell out. :-/

Luckily, Peter was there to catch it and between the two of them they managed to lower it to the ground. The frame was a mess, completely rotten.

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Then came the plastering and the painting of the walls and the building of an internal cupboard.

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A lick of paint and that’s one wall done.

The big job ahead is to do the same to the other three walls, two of which contain the windows – and all of this is only if we find the next lot of funding.

I can’t wait to see the windows boxed off internally with shelves below each of them. 🙂

But then the tea/coffee area needs to get built, everything painted, carpet and floor coverings put down – and even then we need to look for funding for the equipment to go in the room (SMART Board, meeting room tables, chairs, dry wipe board, flipchart, WiFi, breakout sofa area, etc, etc.

One step at time though…..we’re getting there. 😀

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